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Chart 3. Privately financed nonfarm dwelling units started-United States totals by
Chart 5. Publicly financed nonfarm new family dwelling units started-by years,
Chart 6. Publicly financed nonfarm new family dwelling units completed-by years, 1936 through 1946-...
Chart 7. Public low-rent housing, nonfarm dwelling units approved by the President and completed-by program and by year, 1934-46..
Chart 8. Cost in current dollars, of a house costing $5,000 in 1935-39, based on consolidated Boeckh index of construction costs, 1920-46--.
Chart 9. Residential construction costs, National Housing Agency indexes, by year,
Chart 10. Geographic variations in dwelling unit types, 1940.
Chart 11. Units built in specified periods as percent of all nonfarm dwelling units in
Chart 12. State of repair and plumbing equipment, nonfarm dwelling units Novem-
Chart 14. Dwelling units occupied by nonwhite families as percentage of all occupied
Chart 17. Trend in population and families, 1890-1945.
Chart 20. Number of marriages and divorces per thousand population, annually,
Chart 21. Nonfarm mortgages recorded: Principal amount by month, 1939 through
Chart 22. Nonfarm mortgages recorded: Average principal amount, by year, 1939-46-
Chart 24. New mortgage loans: Percentage distribution of principal amount of loans made by Savings and Loan Associations, by purpose of loan, by year, 1936-46Chart 25. Home mortgage investment: Gross addition, gross reduction, and net change by year, 1926-46..
Chart 26. Number and total principal amount of home loans guaranteed by VA as
Chart 27. Face amount of FHA insured loans in force at year end and face amount
A. Bibliography of Sources...
B. Federal Legislation and Presidential Executive Orders Affecting Housing 1932 to
C. Appendix Tables..
Table A. Total war dwelling units started: United States totals, by type of financing,
Table E. Housing accommodations completed: United States totals by type of program, by month, January 1946-March 1947-...
Table F. Accommodations covered by HH priority authorizations: United States totals, by issuing agency, by type of accommodation (new or conversion) as of Dec. 23, 1946...
Table G. Number of dwelling units authorized for construction by FHA: United
Table H. New rental dwelling units authorized for construction by FHA: United States totals by specified maximum monthly rental interval and monthly reporting period, Jan. 15-Dec. 23, 1946.
Table I. New sales dwelling units authorized for construction by FHA: United States
Table J. New dwelling units authorized for construction by FHA: By geographic
Table N. Number and percentage distribution of new nonfarm dwelling units au-
HOUSING PRODUCTION AND COST Introduction
Ever since the 1920's, and especially since 1933 when housing became a matter of governmental concern, there has been a growing interest in statistics measuring the level, trend, and economic significance of residential construction activity. Both industry and Government have sought to find, in quantitative data, some guidance in the development of public and business policies which might produce a steady flow of new housing adjusted to the market in both volume and cost.
This growth of interest has led various agencies, both public and private, to devote increasing attention to the technical problems of current reporting, and continuing efforts have been made to widen the coverage of reporting sources, to strengthen techniques where estimating was necessary, and to provide additional internal classifications as new questions arose for which the answers could not be found in existing data. No less important than the improvement of current reporting have been the efforts of research groups such as the Twentieth Century Fund and the National Bureau of Economic Research to provide historical data with which current trends might be compared. These organizations have prepared estimates of new nonfarm family dwelling units started by years from 1900 to 1929. These estimates were necessarily based on incomplete data compiled without the benefit of later improvements in current reporting systems. They are subject to some error in the distribution as between years but the decade totals are believed to be fairly reliable.1
Using techniques similar to those employed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, has prepared estimates for the years 1930-39. The Bureau, which is the official Government source of statistics on residential construction,
1 See appendix A, Bibliography for Part One.
now keeps these data current through a system of estimates which are prepared for each month and then recast at the end of each year into a final annual estimate.
With certain omissions which are discussed later, it is thus possible to put together from the estimates of these three agencies, a picture of residential construction since 1900. This has been
done in the insert table. (Public housing, shown separately in the table, is reported to Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Federal Public Housing Authority.)
A brief look at the history of residential construction since 1900 as revealed by these figures will serve as a background for further discussion of statistical developments.
The wide fluctuations which characterize home building activity are apparent. Approximately 4,000,000 dwelling units were added to the Nation's housing supply during each of the first two decades; the second decade undoubtedly would have shown an increase over the first had it not been for the relatively low activity during the World War I years.
The third and fourth decades are in marked contrast with each other as well as with the two earlier periods. More than 7,000,000 dwelling units were added in the years 1920-29, less than 3,000,000 during the 1930's. World War II with its severe shortages of labor and materials, interfered seriously with housing production during the first half of the 1940 decade, the total new supply for the first 7 years being less than 3,500,000 units including war housing.
Beginning with World War I the flow of housing into our supply has come not as a steady stream, but as a series of sharply contrasting peaks and valleys. Low levels of activity characterize both World War periods; sharp rises following the end of each war testify to housing shortages and
consequent high demand. The peace years between the wars show first an abrupt break resulting from high prices, then a rise to a high production level during the 1920's with each of the 7 years from 1922 to 1928 showing additions well above 700,000 units. Production tapered off from the peak of 937,000 units in 1925, and 8 years later, in 1933, construction amounted to only 93,000 units, or less than 10 percent of the peak. The climb from this low point was long and slow, and it was during this period that public housing first assumed some importance as a contributor to the Nation's housing supply. During the war, public, financing of housing production assumed substantial proportions; privately financed housing has nevertheless continued to constitute the mainstay of our housing supply. Total new nonfarm family dwelling units started: By type of financing, by year, 1900 through 1946
Excludes 5,998 publicly financed dwelling units completed in 1918 and 1919 by the U. S. Housing Corporation. Data as to when these units were started are not available.
A large proportion of this housing is comprised of temporary wartime units. Data for 1945 and 1946 adjusted for lapsed building permits and for lag between issuance of permit and actual start of construction.
Excludes veterans' housing units provided by conversion, stop-gap family accommodations, and veterans' housing developed with local funds which is not otherwise part of the Federal Public Housing Authority Title V program.
Sources: Twentieth Century Fund-1900-1919; National Bureau of Economic Research-1920-29; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor for privately financed, Federal Public Housing Authority tor publicly financed-1930-46.
Current Residential Construction Data
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been developing its present program of residential construction statistics since the late 1930's. It now prepares a group of interrelated monthly estimates covering
the number of new nonfarm family dwelling units started, their estimated costs, and the on-site employment and value put-in-place during the course of construction. The methods used in preparing these estimates are described in chapters I and II below. It should be noted here that they are estimates and that there are no current series which represent an actual count of dwelling units constructed or which provide data on their costs taken from actual accounting records. The Bureau has attempted to approach this ideal by enlisting the cooperation of municipal authorities in reporting data on permits issued for dwelling units, and an encouraging proportion of permits issued by urban places is now so reported. However, a large amount of construction takes place in outlying areas where permits are not required, and continuing and relatively costly field checks have had to be employed to account for this factor. While continuing to emphasize the improvement of its reporting sources, the Bureau believes that most users of residential construction data do not have the facilities for compiling their own estimates from the raw data reported and therefore has designed its program so as to produce, from the combination of reported information and field surveys, a set of "ready-made" estimates consistent with the broad estimates for earlier years referred to above.
While for this reason the BLS data receive primary attention in this book, it should be noted that data on residential construction volume also are compiled by the F. W. Dodge Corp. for the 37 States east of the Rocky Mountains. The data represent a compilation of the construction news reports of its field agents. In contrast to the BLS, the Dodge corporation presents only the unadjusted data and does not estimate for any undercoverage in reporting States or for construction in the 11 Western States where its field agents do not operate.
It also should be noted that current data on residential construction activity fall short of present requirements in certain other respects. Current reports, for example, provide very little data on farm dwelling construction. Even in the rural nonfarm classification, which they do attempt to cover, no satisfactory data are regularly collected on repair and maintenance construction despite its obvious importance, nor is there any permanent system for measuring the number of existing structures which are converted to provide additional dwelling units or are converted from